Future Happens 2021


Welcome to the archived 2021 version of the Future Happens web presence. The Future Happened, and it kind of sucked. So much of what we talked about became necessary and critical skills for all of us to use in these crisis and hopefully post-crisis times. There is still more to be done….

If you want to have a read of the most recent publication by Dave, Donna and Peter about Future Happens (called ‘Precarious Voices: The Shared Hopes and Dreams of those Teaching and Supporting Learning in Digital Contexts) you can access a copy of our 2019 paper presented at the EDEN conference in Bruges, Belgium right here. It seems a long, long time ago my friends.

Oh, and this is the abstract

University staff in learning technology related roles are critical to the capability of the institution to effectively enhance the student experience, deliver an engaged curriculum and achieve significant pedagogical change. However, their perceptions of identity, precarity, status and capability and the locations and roles they are located in within many institutions can challenge that capability. Drawing on data gathered about the hopes and dreams of over two hundred learning technology related staff at three workshops held in the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany, this paper will explore the contradictions and paradoxes that impact on the capability of staff in learning technology related roles to influence and shape pedagogical and technological change.

And now back to 2018

It is easy to make pronouncements about pedagogical, technological or institutional change from the islands, when the consequences of advocating for and implementing that change are limited to your world, your classroom, your twitter feed. They are safe spaces, full of friendly faces and welcoming and supportive practices. But decisions, assertions and opinions all have consequences; for your students and the worlds they inhabit, for your colleagues and their practices and for your institutions. The challenge comes when you need to scale what you speak. You need to make the future happen for your entire institution. What happens when the Vice-Chancellor, the Dean or the Director says ‘we need what you doing to transform the whole institution’? What do you say and do? How do you make sure you say the right things, in the right rooms, with the right people?

Future Happens wants to create the spaces and share the capabilities that can help bridge these gaps. We want to help you be the nexus between practice and strategy, to be part of the discourse at your institution and empower you to actively shape teaching and learning at your institution. Using the principles of crowdsourcing, digital citizenship and collective problem solving, Future Happens generates, shares and challenges the key messages, tools and strategies available that put the digital in the heart of the conversation and not as an uncritical duplication of institutional norms or as a fringe activity of the tech savvy.

One of our key ways we do this is through what we call a changehack.  A changehack is a way of engaging with staff, students and your community to make change happen, coming up with the innovative and workable solutions and ideas. A changehack works because it seeks to challenge head on and avoid some of the standard blockers that prevent real and productive debate and solutions. A changehack draws on the principles of crowdsourcing by not simply generating ideas but asking people to become citizens of the crowd, participating because there is a collective good that comes from that participation (Brabham 2008; Halbert 2015). You can read more about the changehack and how to run one yourself right here.

Future Happens is not a company, or a consultancy or a problem solving hit squad. It is a collaboration between two UK higher education institutions and a group of committed, critical and experienced people.  We started this whole thing to help our institutions and others to solve the wicked problems of leading institutional change from the centre, recognising the need for constructing and preparing for the unknown possible futures for higher education (Davis & Sumara 2009).  Everything you see here is free for you to use, repurpose, remix and share.  It would be great to hear about how you used the resources and ideas the Future Happens have curated here.  And of course, you can always hashtag us on social media #futurehappens

Brabham, D.C. 2008, ‘Crowdsourcing as a model for problem solving: An introduction and cases‘, Convergence, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 75-90.

Davis, B. & Sumara, D. 2009, ‘Complexity as a theory of education‘, TCI (Transnational Curriculum Inquiry), vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 33-44.

Halbert, D. 2015, ‘Reshaping Higher Education for a Globalized Future‘, Technology and Workplace Skills for the Twenty-First Century, Springer, pp. 49-67.